Cinemagic is a series where I talk about live action or animated Movies and TV Shows. Many of them are Science Fiction and Fantasy films that are anticipated enough to give them a watch. Today, I review FLCL Progressive.
Cinemagic: FLCL Progressive Review
Way back in the early 2000s, a little-known anime series came out that changed how we looked at how a series is made. Relying less on plot and more on the art and animation. I’m talking about FLCL, one of my favorite anime series of all time.
FLCL (pronounced Fooly Cooly) is an original anime by Gainax (meaning it wasn’t adapted from a manga) that aired on Adult Swim way back when about a young boy named Naota who encounters a mysterious woman on a Vespa who curses him with a mysterious power that summons monsters and robots from his forehead. The whole series revolves around a mysterious, steam iron-like structure known as Medical Mechanica, the source of a dark power that could bring about the end of the world.
I’ll admit as much, the plot is confusing and it can be hard to follow, but the series doesn’t pride itself on story. It’s the cast and the animation is what makes it iconic. A story about a young boy living a normal life in Japan and his world becomes such a bizarre mess that he must go about his world despite these strange nuances. It’s also very short, only six episodes long. It wasn’t canceled, just structured that way.
In 2016, we learn of a follow up to the series, FLCL Progressive and FLCL Alternative, that Adult Swim and animation studio Production I.G. Since the original series ended on a decent note, I wondered what a sequel would do. Having finished the series on Toonami, I enjoyed the ride and felt that it did some things to feel similar to its predecessor and added it’s own flair. So here’s my take on it.
Fooly Cooly: Progressive
The story follows the somewhat ordinary life of Hidomi Hibajiri, a young high-school student who wears headphones with cat ears. However, an encounter with two strange women changes her life forever when mysterious creatures start popping out of her forehead.
Explaining anything else would only leave you lost. It’s one of those types of shows where you have to dissect every facet of the plot to understand it, but this series isn’t enjoyable for its plot. It’s the cast and animation that makes the series memorable.
Moving to a new cast entirely is nothing new. Sometimes, it can take place in a new part of Japan, with minor nods to the original series. There are a few things that set this apart from “season one.”
For starters, the original anime is far more goofy and hectic and the animation alone is worth enjoying. The voice acting, while not incredible, fits the odd vibe this series offers. Nasal-y, monotone, yet between the sequences and the music (by the Japanese band “The Pillows”), it takes you into the ordinary life of Japanese high-school students…who happen to have monsters growing out of foreheads.
In Progressive, the series takes a more serious tone. While not too serious, the series contains a number of creepy moments that doesn’t retread simply for nostalgia. It’s a worthy successor that still keeps the odd vibe the series is famous for. Hidomi’s dream sequences are examples of this, where she wanders through a sea of dead classmates.
Considering it’s on Adult Swim, it’s not for the young ones. It’s not hardcore, but it does have its moments. The series can also be pretty violent and action packed with the number of fights with their guitars (yes, guitars).
Considering this is a very short series, about 6 episodes like before, there’s not much else to add. The new characters are all memorable, the world if boring, yet interesting, and the episodes are never the same. Production I.G. had a lot to go for when they’re taking over for Gainax. The main people branched off to become Studio Trigger (Kill La Kill, Space Patrol Luluco, and Darling in the Franxx to name a few), but they did a wonderful job. Production I.G. is also a great animation studio that produces a lot of amazing works. Everyone talks about either Bones or Madhouse, but I think these guys should be among them.
Hope for FLCL Alternative
There was a small preview for FLCL Alternative, airing in September, and it was in the form of an April Fools prank where Adult Swim aired all their shows subtitled. The world got it’s first taste of the new show before even Progressive aired. I can’t remember their names, but from what I saw, it was interesting enough.
I’ll have to see more of it, but I’m curious how it will surpass its predecessors. The season will have a female cast this time around, and while the main leads were female (Hidomi and Jinyu), there were notable male characters as well.
It had a young girl hanging out with friends, making a huge bottle rocket that they can send off to space. However, the mysterious Haruko returns again, likely to cause more havoc, no doubt. It does look like fun, but again, I’ll have to see more of it.
Following up on FLCL alone was hard enough. Having to do three, six-episode seasons is another challenge altogether. FLCL is such an iconic series, being of the early Adult Swim anime series, alongside Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, and Fullmetal Alchemist. One of the early “gateway anime” for some. Airing anime on cable TV was such a big risk back then, especially ones geared towards adults.
Most anime back then were ones targeted towards kids. Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Digimon, Beyblade and of course, Dragonball Z and Sailor Moon. So many famous franchises are huge because companies took the risk and introduced the whole world to a new type of show. And anime has become a lifestyle for some.
FLCL is sure to bring back memories for many teenagers and who stayed up at 2 in the morning (or somewhere around that), to watch it when their parents were sleeping. No doubt, many had memories of seeing anime geared for grownups, with many finding better alternatives to the usual stuff on Kids WB or the Fox Box.
More stuff like this needs to be mainstream, because if our goal is diverse shows, then anime needs to be among them. It’s slipping into niche territory when back then, some franchises were iconic. I’d love to see these types of shows become popular.
So that’s that. FLCL: Progressive is a worthy successor to the show, and while some might be fond of the original, I feel it’s a good follow up that says on the path its predecessor made. I’m hoping the followup can be even better
That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.
If you have any suggestions for future topics and reviews, hit me up on my social media channels and let me know your thoughts. I always read the feedback, even if I don’t respond. Your feedback is what keeps me going, so thank you for supporting me.
My Japanese Mythology-inspired short story, Do Not Stare Into The Eyes Of A Kitsune, is finally available. You can buy it on Amazon or wherever ebooks are sold. Help a debut author make his debut worth it.
My next work will be titled “City of Kaiju,” a tale about an unlikely alliance between a young girl and her giant dog monster, as they survive chaos and disaster from a gigantic kaiju invasion. Part of a new Short Novel initiative, intended to fill in the gap between releases. Set for release within the Fall 2018/Winter 2019 period. Read more about it here